The Desert Isn’t Just Sand Anymore

And I’m not talking about the bushes and plants…

During our stay at the Rover’s Roost SKP park outside Casa Grande, Arizona, we spent some time walking stretches of the desert that bordered the park. We’d heard jaw-dropping stories about the illegal foot traffic through the area, stories that we hadn’t heard in Yuma which is so much closer to the Mexican border.

“Be careful who you open your RV door to,” someone at the SKP park said. “They’ll knock on your door and ask you to call Border Patrol.”

“What? Why would they do that?” we asked.

“Because they’ve made their delivery and they’re ready for their free meal and ride back to the border,” we were told.

It was enough to make Ellen start carrying her handgun on hikes, too! So armed, we ventured into hot desert to see what we could see.

Thinking we would spot birds and maybe a critter or two, we were dumbfounded to find a whole different world than we expected.

We weren’t too surprised to find evidence of local parties…

…and even something like this makes sense if you think of the number of homeless people who need to bed down anywhere:

But trashing the desert…. that’s another thing entirely.

No wonder we saw this sign:

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
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7 Responses to The Desert Isn’t Just Sand Anymore

  1. Andrew Kraft says:

    How much of this trash do you think was left by illegals crossing, vs. the homeless you mention? And isn’t it really hot out there?

    • Ellen says:

      Hi, Andrew! Thanks for commenting. Don’t really know who left the trash. Probably some illegals, but mostly the trash seemed to be the sorts of things you’d see in stuff people might take to Goodwill or the Salvation Army — so my guess is that a lot of it is likely locals who use the desert as a dump. Other stuff might be there because (probably also) locals like to use the desert as their “party site” — old furniture and more beer and alcohol bottles than we could count littered about as well as the remains of campfires.

      Regardless of who’s using the desert as a dump, it’s a sad, sad thing to see.

      • Andrew Kraft says:

        Definitely agreed that it’s sad to see.

        My wife and I climbed Kilimanjaro in 2006 (Tanzania, Africa), and we found so much trash along the way… we picked it up each day and gave it to our porters at night, who were instructed by their boss to carry it down the hill with the other trash our camp generated… other camps and hikers were less conscientious.

        Any thoughts on how to clean it up or are there any plans in the works to do so?

  2. It is too beautiful a place to see people dump their garbage. What type of handgun do you carry if you don’t mind me asking?

    • Ellen says:

      You’re right — it is a beautiful place, when left in its natural state. Unfortunately, the desert just makes clear what’s going on everywhere: when I was commuting to an office back in the Midwest, I remember stopping at a light at an interstate off-ramp every morning and seeing a huge pile of cigarette butts. We’ve been on what we consider to be remote trails and still find trash. Some of it blows there, but some of it was clearly left behind by people who ignore the “pack it out” rule. As for our carry weapons — let’s just say it’s enough to defend ourselves 🙂

  3. Ellen says:

    Andrew — Thanks for stopping by, and providing an example that further proves my point: people are a lot more selfish and inconsiderate of the world and others than we all should be! So glad to hear you took in on yourself to make a difference, at least as much as you could. Unfortunately, you’re probably picking up after people whose mothers always cleaned their rooms for them…. rather than getting them to clean their own rooms. Know what I mean?

    The only thing I can think of that we can all maybe do differently is to call people on the actions they take. Often people don’t mean to be destructive, they’re just thoughtless. Reminding them that they need to *think* about what they’re doing and make different choices will hopefully make a difference!

    What other things to do you think we could do as individuals?

    • Andrew Kraft says:

      I think it’s really hard to help people get outside of themselves if they’re not already prone to thinking about things that are bigger. There will always be someone who doesn’t know, and there will always be someone who knows and just doesn’t care (unfortunately).

      One thing my wife and I do is just generally, when we’re out for a walk or otherwise, pick up trash when we see it. And then, for eachother, we’ll say things like “Thanks for being a great person!” Or “Thanks for making this place look nicer!” or “Thanks for planting shade trees for people you’ll never meet.”

      I think the key is to surround yourself with people who do care, and who do want to be a difference. And then to be an example of making a difference just by picking up the trash (or at least some of it) when you see it. When people see you going out of your way to do something that benefits others and/or the environment, not because you’re doing it for show or otherwise, I think it has a bigger impact on them than saying something to them.

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